Integrating Cultural Knowledge In Science Teaching At Ordinary Level In Bulawayo, Zimbabwe


Joshua Chitera,
Eveline High School, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe,

Partson Virira Moyo

Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe

 Corresponding author:

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The Zimbabwean Competence based curriculum framework (2015-2022) recognizes
the importance of cultural knowledge in school science teaching. The framework
stresses that competences to be taught in science lessons should be informed by
cultural knowledge. Despite this recognition, the Zimbabwean Ordinary Level
science teaching has remained the same without adopting this new approach. This
study sought to establish the cultural knowledge held by different communities
around Bulawayo which is relevant to the Ordinary Level school science and how
that knowledge can be used in the teaching of science at this level. Through a
qualitative research approach, data were gathered from a sample of ten elders who
were 60 years old or older who originated from different Zimbabwean communities
and five Ordinary level science teachers. The elders were purposively chosen for their
experience and expertise in cultural knowledge and were asked to explain the cultural
knowledge held by their communities. The teachers were randomly selected from
Bulawayo urban schools and were asked to explain how the cultural knowledge cited
by the elders could be integrated with science teaching. Data from participants were
gathered through interviews. The results from the study indicated that there is a vast
and rich cultural knowledge base held by communities which could be integrated with
school science. The paper concludes that there is a lot of potential in integrating
cultural knowledge with school science. Such an approach to science teaching would
make science lessons more relevant and accessible to the learners from different
cultural backgrounds.

Keywords: Cultural knowledge; curriculum; integration; school science

The Zimbabwean school science curriculum was dominated by Western values until the
Competence based curriculum was enacted in 2015. The Competence based curriculum
framework is characterized by a paradigm shift towards recognizing cultural knowledge
in school science teaching. The framework stresses that competences to be taught in
science lessons should be informed by both cultural knowledge and other knowledge
systems. Despite this recognition, the Zimbabwean Ordinary Level science teaching has
remained the same without adopting this new approach. The Competence based
curriculum responds to the local, regional and global calls such as one made in 1999
at a
conference in Mathematics, Science and Technology Education hosted at the
of Zimbabwe. Participants at the conference made a strong statement that
the way
science was being taught in Zimbabwe made it irrelevant to the learners.
This was
because schools teach science to learners whose worldview is different from
those on
whose culture school science is based. School science is based on Western
(Aikenhead, 1997). The result of such practice is that learners end up finding
it difficult
to access, acquire and develop science concepts and to develop an interest
in science
careers (Gwekwerere, Mushayikwa & Munokore, 2013). The conference suggested
contextualising science teaching through production of materials that would use
learners‟ everyday experiences. The participants believed this would make school
science accessible and relevant to learners.

Integrating cultural knowledge with science teaching should be understood within the
context of three interconnected dimensions driving the current thinking in the teaching
of science. Firstly, the Zimbabwean school science curriculum was based on a Western
culture which is alien to learners (Aikenhead, 1997). Schools are teaching science to
learners whose world view is different from those on whose culture school science is
based. Current thinking is that school science should be integrated with cultural
knowledge (Mushayikwa and Ogunniyi, 2011; Moyo, 2012). The argument is that
science is a product of different cultures whose understanding of the natural world
differ, as people use different cultural lenses to understand phenomena. Mazzocchi,
(2006) is of the view that any form of knowledge is sensible and relevant to those who
produce it.

Secondly, the scientific knowledge domain that learners bring into the science class
referred to as cultural knowledge which is known by different names – peoples’ science,
indigenous knowledge, village science and local knowledge (Ward, 1989) has been in
place since time immemorial, stretching from the pre-colonial era. Several researches
making calls for the restoration of the cultural knowledge which was marginalized
the colonial settlers (Olugbemiro & Aikenhead, 1999;
Ogunniyi, 2011; Khupe, 2014 and
Msimanga & Shizha, 2014
). Cultural knowledge is a product of many years of accurate
observations and experiments by indigenous people (Ward, 1989). Its
importance has
been demonstrated in several areas that include agriculture, ecology, animal husbandry,

craft skills, climate and medicine (
Risiro, Tshuma, & Basikiti, 2013). Despite the
contributions of cultural knowledge in these areas of life, it has be
en relegated and
marginalized or even demonized for reasons that include prejudice, lack of

documentation, professional pride, language problems and political power by settlers

(Webster, 1990).

Thirdly, exploring the worth and contribution of cultural knowledge systems and beliefs
in science teaching will help learners understand its worthiness and teachers will have a
living laboratory to draw examples from for their teaching
allowing for diversity, equity
and fairness to the learners.

The Competence Based curriculum framework recommends integrating cultural
knowledge with school science but does not explain how the integration process should
be carried out. This knowledge gap has motivated this research to explore the cultural

knowledge that communiti
es hold and how the knowledge can be integrated with school

Research questions

This paper responds to 2 questions:

*What cultural knowledge, relevant to Ordinary Level Combined Science, do
communities around Bulawayo hold?

*How can that cultural knowledge be integrated into the teaching of Ordinary
Level Combined Science in Bulawayo secondary schools?

Literature Review

Comparing cultural knowledge and school science

Risiro, Tshuma, and Basikiti (2013) describe cultural knowledge as knowledge that is
locally produced and is of relevance to that society. The knowledge is used to solve
different societal problems. Khupe (2014) alludes that elders of particular societies are
the experts and custodians of cultural knowledge which they orally pass from generation
to generation for their physical and social survival.

Referring to culturally produced knowledge in Zimbabwe, Garlake (1982) says that
technology was not brought by colonialists but was already there when they came. As an
example, the author cites iron smelting that was already taking place in Zimbabwe
before colonization. Mutasa (1990) highlights success in architecture and technology,
sighting examples of expertise in the construction of structures such as the Great
Zimbabwe Monument by the local Shona tribes. In terms of education, Mapara (2009)
posits that education was in existence when colonialists came. Indigenous people had
ways of educating their children through modelling and imitating, storytelling, songs
and proverbs. Puzzles were also used to evoke critical thinking. These methods of
teaching were so powerful that it was very difficult to forget what had been taught
although it was not written down. The author further states that in the field of medicine,
indigenous people had a wealth of knowledge that sustained them before colonization.
The same knowledge has continued up to today. Teachers can draw from the
methodologies, knowledge and skills held by indigenous communities to foster deeper
and richer concept formation and development which could lead to the construction of

new knowledge and skills. Cultural knowledge has distinctive characteristics which
Matsika (2012) identified as being:

a) knowledge that results from everyday experiences and used in solving societal

b) a type of knowledge orally disseminated from generation to generation.

c) knowledge that is not static but responds to changes in societies.

School science on the other end is based on Western culture and refers to science
introduced by colonialists who imposed it on the indigenous groups of learners. Unlike
cultural knowledge, school science is a universalist system used to empirically judge and
test other ways of knowing (Cobern & Loving, 2000). Cultural knowledge, on the other
hand, relies on different aspects that include belief and value systems that a society has
developed (Bullivant, 1981). The author further argues that society continually updates
its knowledge to confront future problems. Teaching of science to non-Western learners
in Africa, has favoured the mechanistic worldview that posit that the natural world can
be understood through empirical research methods (Ogunniyi, 2007 b). On the other
hand, cultural knowledge evolved through observations of nature (Kawagley, KaNorris-
Tull and Norris-Tull, 1998). Though the two worldviews have different approaches to
understanding the world, i.e. although their epistemology and ontology differ, they both
have the potential to solve the human problems in almost equal terms hence their
integration would greatly improve science education.

What is integration?

Davis and Linn (2000) define integration as the process of examining and linking the
knowledge a learner already has acquired and the new knowledge the learner is exposed
to in the school about a concept or phenomenon. The authors argue that this process
results in some modification or accommodation of the old and the new knowledge.

According to these authors, the learner ends up with a broader, deeper and clearer
understanding of the concept or phenomenon. The study takes new knowledge to mean
the school science explanations and the already held knowledge as the indigenous
knowledge explanations of a concept or phenomenon.

Forms of integration
Ng‟etich (1995) summarised the forms of integration in three distinct categories as
depicted in table 1 below.
Table 1: Nge‟tich‟s (1995) model of integration

From Table 1, the Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) into science form of integration
means that indigenous science is considered of less importance and value. In this
scenario IKS is absorbed by science. The school science explanation is taken as the
correct explanation of a given phenomenon. Only those aspects of cultural explanation
that fit into the school science explanations are considered as important. The IKS with
science form of integration is where the two worldviews are taken as equal. In this form
of integration, the explanations from the two worldviews are identified and their
complementary relationship is established.

Giving an example of integrating cultural explanations and school explanations of
lightning, Moyo and Ramirez (2017, p. 330) write

In school science, learners are taught that light travels faster than sound.
our folk tales we are told that lightning is an energetic, ill tempered,
destructive, quarrelsome young man while thunder is the young man‟s
mother. Both were banished from the earth because of the unacceptable and
destructive behaviour of the son. They now live in the skies. The young
man is still very angry. Now and again he visits the earth to cause havoc
perhaps as a revenge for his banishment. Whenever he comes down, his
mother comes after him shouting to restrain him but he is fast and she is old
and slow. She never catches him. When she arrives he will have destroyed
property and people.


This could be used to teach that lightning is very destructive and dangerous and that
light travels faster than sound.

The IKS and science form of integration means that the two worldviews are parallel to
each other, they are independent of each other, with no relationship between them. The
explanations of a phenomenon from a cultural knowledge perspective and from a school
science perspective are both given by the school. Learners interact with and interrogate
both explanations to determine the one that makes sense to them. Depending on the
context, the learners may oscillate between the two world views choosing the
explanation that makes sense at that time. This means that. they choose one explanation
over the other or they may borrow from both explanations for a fuller understanding of
the phenomenon under study. An example is the explanation of the origin of the
universe. Is it creation or evolution? Both creation and evolution are explained in the
school system. The reason for this position is that although the learners receive school

science, their home knowledge will remain entrenched in their minds. Ogunniyi (1988)
posits that attempting to substitute indigenous knowledge with Western science does not
produce desirable results. Several decades of colonization in Africa, for example, failed
to do so despite the concerted effort by the colonialists to decimate and demonize it.
Fanon (1982, p. 17) supports this thinking when he writes: “they can‟t choose; they must
have both. Two worlds: they dance all night to appease their ancestors but fill the church
in the morning to receive mass”. Such a situation may result in contradictions leading to
learners failing to determine correct explanations.

This paper is informed by the, IKS with science form of integration. This means that in
this paper, integration takes the two systems on an equal footing and that the two
complement and reinforce each other. The paper is of the view that no worldview should
be used to assess other worldviews as being worth or not. This view means that links
between the worldviews should be determined to illustrate how they support each other.

Why integration of the worldviews is useful

Moyo (2012) posits that in order to avoid the cognitive dissonance that occurs when
learners confront school science with their prior knowledge, the two worldviews should
be integrated. The author propounds that the learners‟ worldviews brought into the
science classrooms have significant impact on issues such as the extent of participation
and meaning making. Teachers of such classes should ensure full participation of every
learner. The author feels that a deliberate exclusion of indigenous knowledge prior
knowledge of learners curtails educational objectives of science learning.

The diverse knowledge systems (science and indigenous knowledge systems) can
benefit learners significantly (Mazzocchi, 2006). Siegel (2002) praises school science as
being effective and dependable in knowledge construction as it is evidence based and
experiments can be replicated in different contexts and is not culture based. Kawagley,

KaNorris-Tull and Norris-Tull (1998) criticise such a view that present school science as
the only true science and the authors posit that indigenous knowledge has served
generations without fail and hence its legitimacy must be upheld.

Instead of favouring one view over the other, this paper calls for an approach that
integrates the different knowledge systems as suggested by Davis and Linn (2000) that
science learning is a process of integrating ideas. Kawagley, KaNorris-Tull and Norris-
Tull, (1998) insist that the methodology for teaching Western science does not take into
account the student‟s cultural experiences, the approach disadvantages these learners in
several ways that include the content itself and teaching approaches. The authors claim
that infusion of school science and indigenous knowledge will improve science learning
by indigenous learners.

The possibility of the integration has been explored through several research conducted
in South Africa (Ogunniyi, 2011; Khupe, 2014 and Msimanga, 2014), which have
suggested how cultural knowledge could be integrated in the South African schools‟
context. These researches are fairly recent and exploratory. Some researchers have
questioned the preparedness of teachers in the implementation process and their
understanding of the cultural perspectives. For example, Otulaja, Cameron and
Msimanga (2011) posited that most suggestions on curriculum reform have raised the
issue of indigenous knowledge integration with science lessons but there are still no
specific guidelines of the integration process at school level. It is not clear how the
instruction for cultural perspectives inclusion can be handled (Ayodele, 2009). While
Mushayikwa and Ogunniyi (2011) and Moyo, (2012) propose the use of argumentation,
Msimanga and Shizha (2014) argue against this proposal indicating that there is need for
documentation of the knowledge before teachers can use it in their classrooms. It is
therefore the goal of this research to explore the cultural knowledge held by
communities which is subsequently passed on to learners and how the integration of this
knowledge with the school science could be achieved.

Science teachers’ roles in culturally sensitive classes
The teachers should be knowledgeable and sensitive to cultural differences existing in
their science classes and then borrow from that diversity to teach school science
concepts. Teachers must integrate cultural knowledge with the Zimbabwean Combined
Science syllabus in such a way that the scientific content from both school science and
cultural knowledge is organised side by side for each topic to enable teachers to draw
examples from the cultural knowledge content. This will help in using learners‟
background knowledge in teaching school science concepts. Table 2 illustrates what the
teacher could come up with as syllabus organization.
Table 2: Proposed structure of a combined science syllabus

Challenges of integrating cultural knowledge with school science
Seehawer (2018) lists several challenges that impede the integration process. Firstly, the
author questions how possible it is for teachers to integrate cultural knowledge with
school science if teacher training does not include the idea of integrating the two
knowledge systems. Teachers maybe under tremendous pressure to teach for
examinations which do not include questions which relate to the integration of the two
knowledge systems. The lack of teaching materials that incorporate cultural knowledge
is also another challenge. In addition to these challenges is the fact that learners under
the same teacher have different cultural backgrounds hence may have different cultural
knowledge which posits a dilemma on which culture to integrate with school science.

Theoretical Framework

A constructivist theoretical framework that rallies on the view that students‟
predisposition to learn is greatly influenced by their prior knowledge guides this study.
Linn & Burbules (1993) points out the relevance of the learners‟ prior knowledge in
meaning making in new situations. The constructivist framework supports the view that
the relationship between prior knowledge and the encountered knowledge shapes the
leaners‟ understanding of the new content taught. (Yager, 1995 in Pabale, 2005). From a
constructivist point of view, meaning making is achieved when leaners are able to use
the prior knowledge to learn new concepts. (Berk & Winsler, 1995). Supporting the
same views, Rivard and Straw (2000) argue that:

Constructivism posits that personal knowledge and understanding result
from the myriad connection that learners make while integrating new
information with prior knowledge. Some constructivist approaches have
emphasized the personal construction of knowledge in which the
individual‟s idiosyncratic experiences within the learning environment
are paramount, whereas others have underlined the importance of social

processes in mediating cognition. Science education would benefit from a
synthesis of these two perspectives. (p. 567-568)

This means that for learners to develop their cognitive abilities they should construct
knowledge on their own and with others through socialisation using what they already
know. This same view is posited by Driver, Asoko, Leach, Mortimer, and Scott (1994)
who put it that for learning to take place the learner should make use of their prior
knowledge since learning is an activity based on the principle of moving from known to

The constructivist framework has relevance to the present study as it seeks to consider
and bring into the science teaching and learning the knowledge students bring from their
interaction with the communities.


Elders from different cultural groups that included members from Nkayi representing
the Ndebele people, Tsholotsho representing Abatwa people, Binga representing the
Tonga people, Mberengwa representing the vaRemba, Plumtree representing the
Kalanga people, Gwanda representing the AbeSuthu people, Lupane representing the
Dombe people, Bubi representing the Xhosa people, Hwange representing the Nambian
people and Beitbridge representing the Venda people were involved in this research. A
number of tribes were represented so as to capture a wide cultural spectrum. These are
the communities where the majority of the students in Bulawayo urban secondary
schools came from. Purposive sampling was used to select ten (10) elderly participants
who were over 60 years of age. These elders were chosen because of their experience
and expertise in the cultural knowledge systems of the tribes they represented. Five
Ordinary Level Combined Science teachers were randomly selected from five schools in
Bulawayo to find out how they would integrate the cultural knowledge stated by the

elders with school science. Interview guides for elders and teachers were used to solicit
information on the scientific knowledge communities held and how it might be
integrated into school science. Their responses were recorded on tape and transcribed for
analysis. For ethical reasons, pseudo names for the participants have been used. The
focus of the research was on cultural technology, cultural metallurgy, cultural beer
brewing, folklore and cultural practices and their relationship with school science

Results and discussions
This section discusses some of the cultural knowledge held by communities as depicted
by the elders. The section also explains how such cultural knowledge could be integrated
in science lessons at Ordinary level. Examples of the school science concepts used in
this paper are taken from sections of the Ordinary Level Combined Science syllabus in
Zimbabwe to show how this integration could be done.

Cultural technology and school science

Technological advances in indigenous communities are demonstrated in the
constructions of huts by the different communities. The participants were asked about
whether there were any special considerations when constructing huts. Mr. Lameck
Mloyi, an elder, explained that huts are constructed using poles cut from trees, mud from
anthills and grass for thatching. Their roofs are conical in shape. The walls of the huts
are cylindrical in shape. The elder explained that the use of grass for thatching is
because it is cooler during summer and during the day when the outside is hot and
warmer in winter and at night when the outside is cold.

Mr. Sibanda, a science teacher, explained that when there are strong winds, round
houses were not easily destroyed as the wind could go around the wall instead of
exerting force onto rectangular or flat walls. Concepts such as force per unit area can be

learnt using this information. On the use of grass in thatching, he said the air trapped
between the grass insulates the hut from the sun and retains the heat when it is cold.
Learners can use this information to learn about heat transmission and insulation. The
shapes on the hut such as circular floor, cylindrical wall, and conical roof, can be used to
teach volume and area of 2D and 3D shapes which is part of the section on measurement
in the school science syllabus. The calculated area and volumes can be used to further
calculate the amount of space and oxygen in the huts to determine its adequacy for its
occupants and purpose and the amount of material required to make the wall, the roof
and circular floors. We believe that such an approach to science teaching would be both
relevant and stimulating.

Cultural iron ore smelting and tool making and school science
Elders Mr. Mzingeli Sibanda, Mr. Ntandoyabo Dube and Mr. Lameck Mloyi explained
the making of tools by blacksmiths. A blast furnace made of thick walls from clay and
stones is constructed. The furnace is used to make iron from the iron ore. At the top, the
furnace has an opening used to feed the iron ore and charcoal. About midway it has
blowing holes through which air is pumped into the furnace using bellows. At the
bottom there are outlets through which slag is taken out as liquid. The hot bloom is
collected through an opening in the furnace and trapped impurities are removed from the
bloom by hammering it. After that it can then be shaped into desired shapes such as
spears, axes etc. using a hammer. The formed object is cooled by putting it into cold
water. Figure 1 below is a sketch diagram of the blast furnace drawn by the authors of
this paper, from the verbal descriptions by the elders.

Figure 1: Indigenous blast furnace: Authors‟ drawing from descriptions by elders
Explaining the scientific processes that take place in the furnace, Mr. Mandigora, a
science teacher said, a mixture of fuel (charcoal) and iron ore is poured through the top
of the furnace. The mixture is then burnt. Two reactions occur during this process: iron
oxide is reduced to iron and liquid slag is formed. The process, results in carbon
monoxide formation caused by oxygen (from the air) and carbon reaction. The carbon
monoxide then reacts with oxygen atoms in the iron ore reducing it to metallic iron.
High temperatures are achieved through pumping in air into the furnace through bellows
connected to the furnace. Having roasted the ore into hematite (Ferric oxide) through
the formula 2FeO (OH) → Fe2O3+ H2O, water is driven off by heat from the hydrated
iron oxides.

The following are the oxidation-reduction reactions that take place in the furnace:

1. O2 + 2C → 2CO

2. Fe2O3 + CO → 2FeO + CO2 and

3. Fe O + CO → Fe + CO2

Another reaction that occurs in the furnace is the formation of slag from some iron oxide
and other impurities. Slag is then separated from the metal through liquating slag which
then drops to the base and channeled out through tapings. The bloom is then taken out
hot and is hammered to remove slag that will be trapped in it. After slag removal, the
bloom can then be used to make tools.

Asked about the relevance, to school science, of the knowledge about iron ore smelting
and tool making that the elders had explained, Mr. Mandigora, made reference to
oxidation and reduction, effect of heating substances, energy transfer, expansion and

contraction which are part of the Combined Science syllabus. The teacher said, after
explaining and illustrating these processes, the teachers could then ask questions about
the importance of the structure of the furnace and the processes that take place in it. The
teachers can ask for example, Why thick clay walls? What is the purpose of the charcoal,
air, heating and cooling?

The indigenous blast furnace can be constructed at the school and used to demonstrate
the cultural process of iron smelting and tool making. Elders could be invited to the
school to demonstrate the iron ore smelting process. The class could also make visits to
communities to witness the iron ore smelting and tool making process being carried out
by elders. The class could also visit iron ore smelting companies or factories and then
compare the two methods in terms of similarities and differences. Again, we believe
that such an approach to science teaching would be both relevant and stimulating.

Cultural beer brewing and school science

The elders Ms. Sanele Pawula, Mr. Mailos Sibanda, and Mr. Thabani Nyoni explained
the process of beer brewing as follows: Sorghum (amabele) is first socked in water and
then put in closed sacks until it germinates (into umthombo). After germination is dried.
The dried germinated sorghum is ground to make flour. This sorghum flour is mixed
with maize flour and warm water is poured into a container with the mixture and
homogeneously stirred using wooden log, cold water is then added. The mixture is left at
ambient temperature overnight. On the 4th day, the soured mixture is boiled for longer
periods. After this boiling the mixture is left to cool down for two more days. On the 6th
day a bit of the mixture of sorghum flour, maize flour and water are added to the cooled
mixture. The product is left to ferment for the next hours and on the 7th day the mixture
is sieved to separate beer and the chaff.

The science teachers were asked to explain the relevance of the beer making process to
science teaching. Mr. Sibanda, a science teacher, said the knowledge is related to

conditions necessary for the germination of seeds, fermentation and separation of
mixtures. He explained that the sorghum is soaked to initiate germination. Germination
of the sorghum is done to promote the development of hydrolytic enzymes (α and β)
needed for the degradation of starch and proteins, which means breaking down of starch
and protein. Fermentable worts (sucrose: C12H22O11) are produced. This is achieved
under certain temperatures hence the boiling and cooling. The fermentation process
produces ethanol (C2H5OH). The alcoholic fermentation equation is:

C6H12O6 → 2 C2H5OH + 2 CO2.


Folklore as cultural methods of teaching science
In relation to pedagogy, the elders were asked how they taught their children at home.
They pointed out that they use folklore, stories etc. Folklore can be defined as the old
traditions, customs, beliefs and stories of a community that are passed on in a spoken
form through generations (Moyo & Ramirez, 2017). A story about a phenomenon is
narrated in an interesting manner such that children will always remember the story and
will be able to retell it over and over.

The science teachers were asked how it was possible that people remember a lot of what
happened and was said during their early socialisation years but forget what they were
taught in school only recently. Mr. Mandigora, a science teacher, said that the answer
lies, at least in part, in the way the two teachings were or are done. Culturally, people are
taught in ways that are difficult to forget. School science teaching could benefit if it
borrowed from cultural pedagogical methods. For example, using legends, myths or
folktales that describe or explains a natural phenomenon is one such way of cultural
teaching. Culturally responsive teaching would make use of these methods of teaching

and then compare the myth or legend with how scientists describe or explain the same
phenomenon. Asked to give an example of such folklore used culturally which could be
of relevance to science teaching, the teacher said:

Culturally, lightning is a hen that lays its eggs in one place. The hen then
comes back either to lay more eggs or to check its eggs. In school science
learners are taught that certain places are prone to lightning i.e. some places
are struck by lightning again and again. These two ideas can easily be
linked. It would be unfair and unreasonable to ask: Have you ever seen
those eggs? because it can also be asked: Have you ever seen those electric

Such tales about natural phenomena are of importance for their motivational and
captivating value more than for their factual accuracy.

Cultural practices and school science
Separating mixtures

Elders were asked how they separate substances traditionally. Several examples of
separation of mixtures were explained. One example cited was the separation of small
grain such as rapoko or sorghum and chaff. The elders Mr. Lameck Mloyi and Mr.
Thabani Nyoni explained that „amabele ayeliwa, umoya uyaphephetha amahlanga
lotshani‟ meaning that chaff is removed through winnowing. Some examples included
sieving of beer. The science teachers were asked the relevance of the cultural ways of
separating substances to science teaching. Mr. Sibanda explained that these would serve
as examples in the teaching of the separation of mixtures in the Combined Science
syllabus. He explained that school science teaches the separation of many different

substances through a variety of methods such as the use of magnets, filtration,
evaporation, distillation, and fractional distillation. The substances used to illustrate
these methods, such as Sulphur and iron filings, are often taken from the science
laboratory. The many different mixtures separated daily in the learners‟ home
environments are not referred to. The separation of maize seeds from nuts by hand when
eating a mixture of the two; the separation of grain from chaff through winnowing; the
use of sieves to separate chaff from beer, cow dung from milk; the separation of salt
from soil to get salt from the earth using filtration and evaporation; the brewing of
kachasu and tototo (highly intoxicating liquor) through distillation should be included in
the science curriculum. This way, learners would link home and school and find
relevance in what they learn in science lessons.

The teacher alluded that it would be remote and meaningless if, for example, a teacher in
a remote rural area in Zimbabwe teaches about Fractional distillation of liquid air. The
students have problems in visualising liquid air and worse still, distilling it and the
teacher cannot help much since he/she too does not have any relevant experience of the
phenomenon at all. This is not to say that fractional distillation of liquid air and such
alien concepts, should not be taught in science lessons, because while science lessons
must be based on the cultural perspectives of the learners there must be an extension of
that cultural heritage.

Conclusions and Recommendations

The research found that communities have significant cultural scientific knowledge and
teachers were able to explain how that cultural knowledge could be used in school
science lessons.

The authors recommend the following:

A wide scale research and documentation of cultural knowledge held by communities be
carried out in Zimbabwe.

That curriculum design takes a bottom-up approach as opposed to the top-down
approach since the knowledge is embedded in the communities that originate it.
Communities should inform curriculum development.

Community elders be engaged as resource persons on issues to do with cultural
knowledge in science teaching.

Community visits be organized so that learners are exposed to cultural knowledge that
are available in different communities.

Other researchers could investigate how different explanations of the same phenomena
given by different worldviews can be reconciled in a science lesson. They could also
investigate whether integration really results in better school science education.